KANDAHAR, Afghanistan – Taliban terrorists killed an Indian hostage after he tried to escape and dumped his beheaded body Sunday in southern Afghanistan. Three Afghan soldiers were killed in a roadside bombing also blamed on the Taliban.
The body and severed head of K. Suryanarayana, an Indian telecommunications engineer, were found in a field near the highway running through the remote Hassan Kariez district of Zabul where he was abducted Friday, said the provincial police chief, Ghulam Nabi Malakhail.
Qari Yousaf Ahmadi, who releases regular statements on behalf of outlawed Taliban fighters, said militants shot the Indian after he tried to escape and fought with his captors. He also said Taliban militants would soon release Suryanarayana's Afghan driver.
On Saturday, Ahmadi demanded all Indians leave Afghanistan within 24 hours or they would execute the engineer.
"The death of the Indian engineer who was working for the construction and reconstruction of Afghanistan is no doubt the work of enemies of Afghanistan," Afghan President Hamid Karzai said.
In Delhi, Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh expressed his condolences to Suryanarayana's family and urged his country "to remain unified in the face of this terrorism."
Separately, Taliban militants killed three Afghan soldiers and wounded three in a roadside bombing outside the Helmand provincial city of Grishk, local Afghan army commander Gen. Rahmattalluh Roufi said.
Rising violence across southern Afghanistan is a growing concern for nations contributing troops to a force operating here under a NATO mandate. The force is to rise from its current 10,000 soldiers to about 21,000 by November as it gradually assumes command of international troops in Afghanistan.
Suryanarayana's killing was the second of an Indian hostage in southern Afghanistan in the past six months. The Taliban killed Indian truck driver Maniappan Raman Kutty in November and dumped his almost decapitated body in the volatile southern province of Nimroz.
Suryanarayana's wife, Manjula, collapsed on seeing reports of the body's discovery, while her three children and dozens of well-wishers wailed and cried, many of them clutching pictures of the engineer.
"He is the only son of his old parents. He has not done any harm to anybody," Manjula said at her home in Hyderabad.
Afghans expressed outrage at his killing, the first of a hostage since four Macedonians of Albanian descent were kidnapped and executed in March, purportedly by Taliban militants.
"Islam does not say to kill human beings because we are all brothers," said Afghan army Maj. Pir Mohammed. "Be sure that God will send the killers to hell."